The 6000 ft Chute
At 11:45am, after hiking for seven and a half hours up the chute in increasingly rotten snow, we decided to turn around and head down. Our slow progress was exposing us to the rockfall and avalanche hazard that would further increase as the day went by. We’d made it to 4222m after having hiked for over 7 hours and climbed just under 6000 feet. Looking at a map later, we learned that the peak the chute reached the summit of, was just under 5000 meters, and that even with our enormous run, we were still nowhere near the top of the almost 8000 feet of vertical that the chute could offer.
Under a hot sun, we quickly changed over to begin skiing. For a lifetime East Coast skier, the view was amazing. We looked down the valley towards the specks that were buildings near where we’d left our bikes as we prepared ourselves for a lung burning descent of the longest chute of our lives.
Amit, beginning the descent.
Though the hiking was over, the challenges were not. The south-facing start of the chute was characterized by rotten, sticky snow, but as the chute turned abruptly east, it became even worse. Patches remained rotten, but others had developed a nerve-racking crust. A short section of well developed corn in the middle of the chute lulled us into complacency before we hit the worst challenge of the day: several kilometers of blocky, refrozen, and highly irregular avalanche debris clogging the exit of the chute.
Spot Amit, the spec in the main gut of the chute.
Read about the author: Sam